Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2013

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 155 of 217

Early Challenges and Opportunities "With animals, it's a 24/7 job," Bice says. "Every 12 hours we were there doing chores (feeding and milking). There was no going away for weekends or holidays. We'd do our milking at noon and midnight so we could go to a movie and see friends." The couple worked tirelessly along with their one employee, Steve Considine (who is still with Redwood Hill Farm, now as the dairy manager), because they didn't have a cushion—they needed to make money. "In those days there weren't any banks that would give money for goats," Bice says. "But we had the luck of starting with a legal dairy, and the luck of nearby co-packers. And we reinvested back in the business." They also had the luck of good timing. In the beginning, goat's milk items were only for very committed health food consumers or the lactose-intolerant, Bice explains. But things began to shift in the 1980s, and goat's milk products became more appealing for a wider audience. "Alice Waters and other top chefs started having goat products on the menu. Chefs—the leaders of what people are eating and thinking about food—embraced goat cheese, which set the tone and opened up opportunity for other goat products," says Bice. In 1982, Redwood Hill Farm launched the country's first goat's milk yogurt. Growing Beyond the Farm's Capacity As business expanded for their goat milk, yogurt and cheese, Bice had to make a decision about the best way to manage growth. She knew she didn't want an industrial farm with thousands of goats but they did need more milk. So in 1995, she and Schack adopted a co-op method, seeking out five nearby family farms that were milking goats that matched Redwood Hill's standards. (Redwood Hill was the first goat dairy in the United States to be certified humane, by third-party certifier Humane Farm Animal Care; the other members of the co-op are also certified.) The arrangement has worked for all parties involved. "It makes it easier for them; they don't have to build a creamery and make all the products. And a lot of people raising animals don't want to be involved in the business side of things," like making products or marketing, Bice explains, which Redwood Hill takes on. "It's worked out well for us. We value and support our contributing dairies." In 1990, Redwood Hill began its artisanal cheese line with raw goat's milk feta BRAND TIMELINE 1964: Cynthia and Kenneth Bice move their family from Los Angeles to Sebastopol, 60 miles north of San Francisco, to live a back-to-the-land lifestyle. They buy their first goat, Flopsy. 1968: Redwood Hill Farm debuts, selling excess goat milk to local health food stores. 1970: Introduces the first goat milk kefir. 1978: Jennifer Lynn Bice takes over the farm with husband, Steven Schack. 1982: Launches the nation's first goat's milk yogurt. 1986: Wins first Premier Breeder Award at the American Dairy Goat Association National Show. 1990: Launches artisanal cheese line with raw goat milk feta as its first item. 1994: Introduces Camembert-style cheese from goat milk, a first in the United States. 1995: Joins Specialty Food Association and exhibits at first Fancy Food Show. 2004: Builds a state-of-the-art creamery north of Sebastopol. 2010: Launches Green Valley Organics, a line of lactosefree cow's milk products, the first certified humane lactose-free brand in the U.S. Converts farm and creamery to solar power. 2011: Bice is named one of the eight pioneers of artisanal goat cheese in the U.S. and inducted into the American Cheese Society Academy of Cheese. 2013: Celebrates 45 years as a Sonoma County family operated, sustainable farm and goat dairy. JULY/AUGUST 2013 139

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